- ISIL creates all-female brigade to terrorize women into following Sharia law
- ISTOOK: Obama wants to be impeached
- Obama to Latin leaders: Help with border
- Military bans troops from Baptist church event honoring ‘God’s Rescue Squad’
- ‘Pocket drones’: U.S. Army developing tiny surveillance tools for the next big war
- Belgian cafe posts sign: Dogs allowed, but Jews stay out
- Gen. Dempsey: Pentagon studying Russian readiness plans not viewed ‘for 20 years’
- John McCain: Botched, two-hour execution of murderer is ‘torture’
- House GOP ready to move border bill
- Bomb squad called after live WWII artillery washes on Cape Cod beach
Owls’ celebration ends with second-half thud
Question of the Day
Akeem Ayers already knew what it was like to slip into the end zone on an interception return.
Rallying from a two-touchdown deficit in a bowl game, though, was something new.
The sophomore linebacker returned an interception 2 yards for a score in the fourth quarter of Tuesday’s EagleBank Bowl, lifting UCLA to a 30-21 victory over Temple before 23,072 at RFK Stadium.
“This was a big win for us, especially being down in the first half and coming back,” said Ayers, who also had nine tackles to secure the bowl’s MVP honor. “I’m not going to forget [that].”
Redshirt freshman Kevin Prince completed 16 of 31 passes for 221 yards and two touchdowns as UCLA (7-6) collected its first postseason victory since the 2005 Sun Bowl and secured a rewarding conclusion to coach Rick Neuheisel’s second season in Westwood.
Temple lost in its first bowl appearance since 1979 and finished 9-4 after playing the second half without star tailback Bernard Pierce, who was shelved when he reaggravated a shoulder injury. His absence hampered the Owls, whose offense sputtered without a brawny rusher who could easily handle RFK’s slippery, rock-hard sod.
The Bruins fared only a bit better on offense, instead relying on their defense and special teams to complete a rally from a 21-7 hole. Ayers capped the comeback when he anticipated Temple quarterback Vaughn Charlton’s screen to Joe Jones, stepped in front of the pass and took a step into the end zone for his second touchdown of the year.
“He came out of nowhere,” said Charlton, who was making his first start since Oct. 31.
UCLA made the two-point conversion, then stuffed the Owls on three downs on the ensuing possession. Temple’s snap soared over the punter and out of the end zone for a safety, bumping the Bruins’ edge to 30-21.
Temple never regained possession and instead was stuck watching UCLA celebrate a victory three time zones from home.
“The pendulum was sitting right in the middle,” Neuheisel said. “We were 6-6, and this was going to determine what kind of season we had in the eyes of a lot of people who don’t pay as close attention as maybe we do. Now we’re a winning team in 2009, and the expectations are going to take a notch forward.”
It made for a bittersweet moment for the Owls, whose fans packed the rickety lower bowl and savored the early charge toward matching the 1979 team as the only other 10-win outfit in school history. Charlton was sharp throughout the first half, completing 12 of 16 passes for 153 yards and a touchdown.
But that was when he had the services of Pierce, who had 53 yards and a score before leaving. With Pierce gone and Matt Brown (83 yards) struggling with the slick conditions, Temple managed just 41 yards in the second half. Charlton was 1-for-7 for 6 yards in the final two quarters.
“When [Pierce] and Matt are in the offense, not only is the running game working inside and outside, but the play action is working,” Temple coach Al Golden said.
It was a disappointing conclusion to a breakout season in North Philadelphia, where Temple was long a football doormat. The Owls enjoyed their first winning season since 1990 - and signaled that a program that was 0-11 just four years ago is nothing like what it once was.
About the Author
Patrick Stevens has covered Maryland and other Mid-Atlantic college sports for more than a decade. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- George Mason's defense dissipates in 84-74 loss to Northeastern
- Maryland's Pe'Shon Howard willing to let others put ball in the basket
- At 7-5, George Mason looks on the bright side entering CAA play
- Terps beat IUPUI, set for ACC after final tuneup
- Maryland's Jake Layman shows signs of progress in freshman season
Latest Blog Entries
By Mark Davis
The nation founders, the Lone Star State thrives
- Rahm Emanuel: Send illegal immigrant shelter kids to Chicago
- Washington Times strikes content and marketing partnership with Redskins
- D.C. seeks stay in order striking down ban on handguns in public
- 'Pocket drones': U.S. Army developing tiny spies for the next big war
- CURL: Obama, staffers not even pretending any more
- DCCC raising money on suggestion Obama impeachment is imminent
- NAPOLITANO: What if our democracy is a fraud?
- Ohio university quiz implies atheists are naturally smarter than Christians
- ISTOOK: Obama wants to be impeached
- Federal judge rules D.C. ban on handguns in public is unconstitutional
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq